A Lingering Lawsuit, Another Canceled Contract, A Couple Marijuana Plants, and a Draft Tax Measure

It’s a shame the way we’ve been going through City Managers: Warren Urnberg – excerpted from Public Comments – 01/05/16 City Council Meeting

“I don’t think our Community needs it.” Councilmember Jim Soria – 01/05/16 Council Meeting. Excerpted from Medical Marijuana Ordinance Discussion

I’d like to approve what we have here (and) make adjustments – Councilmember Alex McCabe – 01/05/16 Council Meeting. Excerpted from Medical Marijuana Ordinance Discussion

“How do we take care of people with legitimate needs?” Mayor ProTemp Gurpal Samra – 01/05/16 Council Meeting. Excerpted from Medical Marijuana Ordinance Discussion

“…The California Transportation Commission…has removed the Livingston Widening Northbound and also the Livingston Widening Southbound from your projects list. You now have no Regional Projects” – Mike Valata – Mayor of Los Banos. Excerpted from Public Comment – 03/01/16 City Council Meeting

Perry is charged with assaulting Dwight Larks, a 39-year-old real estate agent living in Livingston at the time, during a supervised handover of Lark’s child as part of a custody arrangement with the child’s mother….According to a civil lawsuit filed by Larks, he and the child’s mother had a disagreement over the details of the exchange. Excerpted from Judge dismisses one of three charges against Livingston police officer – Merced Sun Star – 03/10/16

Livingston, CA 04/18/2016

So…there was a disagreement over the details of a Custody Exchange. That’s putting it mildly. More on that a little later. But first.

MAYOR RODRIGO ESPINOZA has decided to try to displace John Pedrozo as District 1 County Supervisor. As of the date of this posting, I’ve seen several large Pedrozo campaign signs around town. But, only a couple so far for Espinoza. And although John Pedrozo has gone on the record as agreeing that Public Safety is of the uttermost importance in Merced County, I’m not so sure Mr. Espinoza’s stated opinion of the Sherriff’s Department would be earning him any “favorability points” with law enforcement.

THE MERCED COUNTY ASSOCIATION OF GOVERNMENTS (MCAT) is floating the ides of a 1/2 cent SALES TAX  ballot measure to be placed on the November Ballot: with the proceeds used for “transportation” related projects. Some members of local government are concerned that most of the proceeds from such a measure would not stay in the Local Jurisdiction in which they were raised. There is also the concern that the draft, as currently written, does not include a guaranteed list of local projects.

EX: The following two items were provided to me by the Mayor of Los Banos

  • Draft 1/2 Cent Transportation Sales Tax Measure Expenditure Plan  – This includes language that was eliminated from the current draft being pitched to local leaders and the public. According to the mayor, the language in black is the MCAG approved language. The red language includes the modifications Los Banos proposed (and was denied by the MCAG Board) to protect the Westside/Eastside share.  Please pay close attention to page 12, “Amendments To The Expenditure Plan”, this section allows MCAG to change the funding allocations. Note the red language under that section. It would have protected the original amounts for the Westside/Eastside by stating that it would have to go back to the voters for any changes. This 30 year tax measure will be on the November 2016 ballot and needs a 66 2/3 voter approval rate for it to pass.

  • Deletion of Livingston HWY 99 Widening Projects

THE LAST STOP? OR JUST A REST STOP? Those of you have been following the goings on in Livingston have already noticed there seems to be a problem attracting and KEEPING qualified staff in certain positions. For some reason, some people just don’t stick around for very long: they’re gone before the ink has barely dried on their contracts.

The latest to “pass through” Livingston on the way to Other Things was Gabriel Gonzalez:  who entered into an interim short-term professional services agreement with the Acting City Manager on January 19, 2016: For an amount not to exceed $10,000. According to the February 02, 2016 Staff Report, this was necessary because:

Due to recent transition in management position(s), there is a significant need for temporary administrative support in public works, finance/accounting and in general City management functions until such positions are addressed. This temporary support is much needed to fulfill the upcoming deadlines and priorities.

At the February 02, 2016 City Council Meeting, an Amendment to that agreement was approved by Council which converted the agreement into a

temporary (6 months to 1 year) administrative support in the following areas: oversight of public works; general administrative support to interim city manager. General functions will include assistance with general operations, annual budget, contract and policy review, organizational and functional analysis…..with option to extend another six (6) months, at the City Manager/Interim City Manager’s discretion

compensation under the amended agreement shall be at an hourly rate of $80 and the total contract amount shall not exceed $135,000.

Mr. Gonzales was hired by the City of Gilroy as their City Manager barely over a month later.

And another one gone after a short stop in Livingston…..

While he was here, Mr. Gonzalez advised the City Council that they should consider creating a new position at City Hall: just for the sole purpose of keeping up with State Storm Water Regulations.

Click on the following link to see Mr. Gonzalez’s Municipal Separate storm Sewer System (MS4) INFORMATIONAL update–And Proposed Administrative Position.


In December of Last Year, the Planning Commission discussed a Proposed Ordinance which would do the following:

  • allow cultivation of up to six plants of marijuana.

  • ban indoor cultivation.

  • eliminate the size requirement for a detached structure and to allow green houses. 

  • Prohibit gas products, including without limitation, C02, butane, propane and natural gas or generators within the structure."

  • delete a setback requirement.

  • to allow deliveries


  • The city attorney “announced that current State legislation has a deadline of March 1, 2016, for cities to establish a land use policy for cannabis activities. If cities do not meet this deadline, they will defer to the State’s regulations and policies”

  • “Merced County Fire Marshall Morgan noted that there are some safety concerns with the code… The Fire Department recommends that indoor grows in detached structures require an electrical permit and maintain minimum set-backs of either 10 or 15-feet (to prevent fires from spreading from one structure to the other).”

  • Merced County Sheriff’s Department representative Ray Framstad gave a PowerPoint presentation on cannabis activities (mainly large grows) and discussed some of the challenges that it posses on law enforcement (such as electrical fires, vandalisms, burglaries, shootings, etc).

COUNCIL MEMBER’S OPINIONS ranged from Council Member Jim Soria: who favored a complete ban to Council Member Alex McCabe: who made a motion banning all commercial cannabis activities, but giving residents (with proper medical approval) the right to grow six cannabis plants outdoors. Mr. McCabe’s motion failed for lack of support.

A second Motion was made by Mayor Pro-Temp Gurpal Samra: which would ban all commercial activities but allow Qualified Patients and Primary Caregivers to grow a maximum of two plants. This motion passed 3-2. Council Members Soria and McCabe both voted “no” but for different reasons.

Community Development Block Grant ApplicationTHERE WAS A PUBLIC HEARING – at City Hall on March 29, 2016 and lasted from about 11am to nearly 1pm. The purpose of the Hearing/meeting was to Brainstorm Ideas for the next Community Development Block Grant Application.

The Initial list of projects to be recommended include the following:

  • Planning Activity Projects–

    • Policy Updates to the General Plan that would facilitate Walkable Communities.

    • A Wastewater percolation study.

    • Water Studies

  • Public Improvement Activities

    • Finish the Pipeline Replacement Project

    • Refurbish/Repair the City’s Water Storage Tank

    • Construction of a Dewatering Facility at the Domestic WasteWater Treatment Plant

  • Public Facility Projects Fire Station –

    • Living Quarters and possible expansion of the facility

  • Public Service Part Time

    • Code Enforcement Officer: Focusing on Health and Safety issues such as Weed Abatement, Watering Restrictions, and Zoning and Building Issues.


January 05, 2016

Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on January 5, 2016. (Amended)

1 Resolution Approving Site Plan / Design Review 2015-3 to Construct a Building Containing an Office, Dressing Room, and an Apartment at the Guru Nanak Sikh Mission, 884 “B” Street, Livingston, CA.

2 Ordinance of the City Council of the City of Livingston Amending Title 5, Chapters 2, 3, 5 and 7 of the Livingston Municipal Code Prohibiting Commercial Marijuana ( Cannabis) Activities, Regulating Delivery of Medical Marijuana, and Regulating the Cultivation of Medical Marijuana Including Establishing Exemptions for Cultivation by Qualified Patients and Primary Caregivers.

3 Approval of Warrant Register Dated December 10, 2015

4 Approval of Warrant Register Dated December 23, 2015.

5 City Council to Provide Direction for Appointment to the Planning Commission.

JANUARY 19, 2016

(Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on January 19, 2016.)

1 Waive the Second Reading and Adopt Ordinance No. 626 of the City Council of the City of Livingston Amending Title 5, Chapters 2, 3, 5 and 7 of the Livingston Municipal Code Prohibiting Commercial Marijuana (Cannabis) Activities and Regulating the Cultivation of Medical Marijuana Including Establishing an Exemption for Cultivation by Qualified Patients and Primary Caregivers.

2 Resolution of the City Council of the City of Livingston Authorizing Delegation of Authority to the Interim City Manager Regarding Industrial Disability Retirement Applications.

5 Approval of Warrant Register dated January 13, 2016.

6 Appointment of City Representative to the Merced County Mosquito Abatement District Board of Trustees.

7 Resolution Appointing Odilon Ortiz as Interim City Manager and Approving a Fourth Amendment to the Employment Agreement between the City of Livingston and Odilon Ortiz.

8 Downtown Beautification Project/Street Improvements.

FEBRUARY 02, 2016

2 Resolution Rescinding Resolution No. 2015-10 and Authorizing the City Manager to Execute Documents, Approve Claims for Reimbursement and Represent the City as Required by the State Water Resources Control Board as Part of the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) Application.

3 Approval of Warrant Register Dated January 27, 2016.

4 Resolution of the Successor Agency to the Redevelopment Agency of the City of Livingston Approving the Recognized Obligation Payment Schedule (ROPS 16-17 A & B) Pursuant to Health and Safety Code Section 34177 for the Period of July 2016 through June 30, 2017

5 Resolution Approving a First Amendment to the Professional Services Agreement with Gabriel A. Gonzalez and Authorizing the Interim City Manager to Execute Amendment.

FEBRUARY 16, 2016

6 Approval of Warrant Register Dated February 11, 2016.

Municipal Separate storm Sewer System (MS4) INFORMATIONAL update–And Proposed Administrative Position

7 Resolution Approving a Rental Agreement for Sludge Dewatering Equipment.

8 Resolution Approving Emergency Purchase of New Police Facility HVAC Unit.

9 Resolution of the City Council of the City of Livingston Approving the Recommended 2015-16 City of Livingston Mid-Year Budget Revisions.

10 City Council to Provide Staff Direction on Creation of a New Corporate Seal (Logo).


MARCH 01, 2016

1 Introduce and Waive the First Reading of Ordinance No.___, of the City Council of the City of Livingston, Amending Title 5, Chapters 3, 6 and 7 of the Livingston Municipal Code Relating to Housing.

2 Approval of Warrant Register Dated February 24, 2016.

3 Request to Join an Amicus Brief to the U.S. Supreme Court Supporting the President’s Executive Action on Immigration (Texas v. United States).

4 City Council to Provide Direction for Appointment to the Planning Commission.

The MARCH 15, 2016 Council Meeting was canceled at the last minute because too many Council Members were “ill”. Had the meeting gone forward as originally scheduled, these are some of the topics that would have been discussed.

1 Presentation – Representatives of the Modesto Chapter of the Citizens Climate Lobby, Kathy Conroto, Bill Anelli, Jerry Jackman, Jody Strait, Richard Anderson and David Rivada will give a slide show they presented at the February 2nd Modesto City Council meeting at which the Council voted for a Resolution endorsing a federal revenue-neutral carbon fee and dividend legislation. This fee increases the cost of fossil fuels, but then returns those fees to American households as a dividend, and therefore, favors a national shift to non-greenhouse gas emitting renewable energy sources.

3 Presentation: Marjorie Kirn, Executive Director of the Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG) on the proposed Transportation Expenditure Plan which outlines a flexible approach to spending more than $450 million of new revenue to address the region’s transportation needs over three decades. Half of the funding will go directly to our local governments for local transpiration needs. The remaining funds will be used for funding for projects of regional benefit, as well as transit.

The following two items were not included in the Council’s Agenda Packets. They were sent to me by the Mayor of Los Banos and are included here for those of you who are interested in more information on the subject)

4 Waive the Second Reading and Adopt Ordinance No. 627, of the City Council of the City of Livingston, Amending Title 5, Chapters 3, 6 and 7 of the Livingston Municipal Code Relating to Housing.

7 Approval of Warrant Register Dated March 11, 2016.

8 Resolution Approving a Professional Services Agreement between the City of Livingston and Patti Dossetti, Dossetti Consulting.

10 City Council to Consider Adoption of a Resolution Making an Appointment to Fill the Vacancy on the Planning Commission.

11 Council Direction to Consider Supporting the Regional Efforts via a Cooperation Memorandum of Understanding within the Merced Groundwater Sub-Basin to Comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

12 Resolution Declaring that One Council Office Subject to Election at the November 2016 General Election Shall Only Serve a Two Year Term in Order to Evenly Stagger City Council Seats Subject to Election in the Future (California Government Code Section 34906).

IT’S NEARLY 4 YEARS AND COUNTING since a dispute over a Custody Exchange began a chain of events resulting in Felony Charges against a Police Officer and a Lawsuit against the City.

According to the Complaint for Damages and Demand for Jury trial filed on behalf of Dwight Larks, on or about May 21, 2012, the mother of Lark’s child, and two members of the Livingston Police Department showed up at Mr. Larks residence and

“permitted (the) mother to unlawfully enter and trespass upon the residence of Plaintiff and she removed (the child) from the custody of the Plaintive in a manner not authorized by any Order of the Court” Case No CVM014537, P.5 – lines 3-5

The Complaint For Damages also states that, the actions of the the officers involved resulted in Mr. Larks sustaining

“among other injuries, laceration of his head, concussion, injury to his left shoulder, left wrist, neck and right leg, and has suffered pain in all those areas…..P7 – lines 13-15

The Claim for Damages also states that, on the day of the incident, Mr. Larks had turned on the recorder of his cell phone and that the terms of a prior court order included the following:

“a court order requires that all custody exchanges take place at a neutral, public location, specifically identified in bold print as: Livingston Police Department” Governmental Claim of Dwight L. Larks, P.3

The Complaint for Damages and Demand for Jury Trial was filed with the Merced County Superior Court on March 19, 2013. (Yes, I do have a copy.)

According to reports in the Sun Star, Mr. Larks was initially cited for resisting arrest and violating a court order. But, no case against him was ever filed “for lack of evidence”. However, the felony case against one of the Officers involved in that 2012 Custody Exchange continues.

I’m betting the Civil Case against the City will also continue to drag on in some kind of “legal limbo” until well after the legal wrangling over the Felony Case is settled.


Licenses, Fees, Consultants and Public Relations, (and a City Council Agenda)

“The fees range from $30 for some smaller cities with only a couple of retailers to $665, with the majority of fees between $200 – $350.  Enforcement and compliance checks for these ordinances are handled by a variety of different agencies including the police department, sheriff’s department, public health department, code enforcement and others.” – The Center for Tobacco Policy and Organizing

Yeh, Yeh, Yeh, I know. It’s supposed to be “just” a presentation. But Presentations sometimes end up as Discussion and Potential Action Items, which morph into Public Hearings, and eventually grow up to be Ordinances.

More on this on a little later. But first…it’s been a little while since we’ve peeked into Delta Bravo Sierra land


1 This Could Turn Out to Be the Least of His Worries2 I've Heard of Pick-Up Lines But3 Just Keep Digging Lucky4 Finally - Something Original

Where is this heading? Not necessarily where you might think. After all, There’s strange, than there is “Army Strange” out there in Delta Bravo Sierra Land: courtesy of Damon Shackelford: furious scribbler of military cartoons.

Family Hamburger Night at the VFW

HamburgerJoin us for the VFW Hamburger Night, April 26, 2012, from 5-7 pm at the Livingston Veterans Memorial Building, 1605 7th Street, in Livingston. The public is invited, and you do not have to be a member to attend.

You will be able to enjoy hamburgers, cheeseburgers, fish sandwiches, chicken sandwiches, hot dogs and chili. The sandwiches include your choice of homemade salads. Price ranges from $2.00 to 4.00 per meal. All proceeds go to help support our community programs.

Livingston/Delhi VFW Breakfast in April

pancakesThe Livingston/Delhi Veterans of Foreign Wars and Ladies Auxiliary Breakfast will be served on April 29, 2012, at the Livingston Veterans Memorial Hall, located at 1605 7th Street, in Livingston.

Adults can eat for $7.00, and the children under 12 for eat for $5.00. Breakfast consists of Pancakes, French Toast or Biscuits and Gravy; served with Eggs cooked to order, Hash Browns, Sausage or Ham and Coffee and Juice. Breakfast will be served from 8 am to 12 pm.

If you need more information on the Breakfast, Family Hamburger Night, or if you would like to become a member of the Post or Auxiliary, contact Denis or Sue Wells at (209) 394-2059.

There’s Still Time to Help Give the Lil Guys and Gals and even better place to play!

clip_image004[5]In 2006 the city purchased the storm drain basin (4 lots) next to the park and filled it in with the intent of making it a park to service the ball park participants and their families. Since then, Lil Guys and Gals field has been a ball park used for many years by the residents of Livingston…By purchasing a stepping stone the community not only provides the financing for the park, but in turn places a personal monument in the park for years to come.

Stones will be sold until there are enough sales to cover the completion of the park. The Commission’s goal is Summer of 2012.

If you are interested in creating a Memorial Stone and/or participating in one of the many work days that will take place to upgrade the park, call the Recreation Office at 394-8830 for more information.

Are there more Licensing Fees in Livingston’s Future?

On This Tuesday’s Agenda there will be a Presentation about Adopting a Retail Licensing Policy for Tobacco Sales. There was nothing in the Online Agenda Packet about this Item.  So, I did a little research online and found an article about Tobacco Retail Licensing (which can be found by CLICKING HERE.)

According to the Article

In order to reduce illegal sales of tobacco products to minors, many cities and counties in California have adopted strong local tobacco retailer licensing ordinances


The fees range from $30 for some smaller cities with only a couple of retailers to $665, with the majority of fees between $200 – $350.

Don’t get me wrong here. I am not saying that people shouldn’t be concerned about the use of Tobacco by Minors. But what I am saying is, Isn’t the Tobacco Industry already heavily regulated and taxed?

The State + Federal tax on a pack of cigarettes is already around $1.88. Right?

(Um..weren’t these high taxes supposed to “help” discourage smoking in general. And wasn’t some of that tax money supposed to go towards programs and such to discouraging minors from smoking? Is it too politically incorrect to ask where that money actually goes?)

And don’t forget about Proposition 29……

If Proposition 29 is approved by California’s voters, the tax on cigarettes in the state will increase by $1.00 per pack. California’s current cigarette tax is 87 cents per pack. The total tax per pack of cigarettes, if Proposition 29 passes, will be $1.87/pack. The additional tax revenue will be used to fund cancer research, smoking reduction programs, and tobacco law enforcement with 3% (approximately $ 23 million annually) (going) to tobacco law enforcement "to support law enforcement efforts to reduce cigarette smuggling, tobacco tax evasion, and counterfeit tobacco products, to reduce illegal sales of tobacco products to minors, and to enforce legal settlement provisions and conduct law enforcement training and technical assistance activities for tobacco related statues". (emphasis mine) – California Proposition 29, Tobacco Tax for Cancer Research Act (June 2012), Ballotpedia

Don’t we have local businesses in town who are already struggling to keep their doors open while paying for the Permits and Licenses they have to get already?

So… do we do we really need yet another fee paid by Local Business People?

And it Looks Like The Next Prop 218 Hearing will feature both a Rate Study Consultant and a Public Relations Firm

Hansfore and GoodStandingStaff Report, Agenda Item # 3. Resolution Awarding a Professional Services Contract to Provide Water, Wastewater and Solid Waste Utility Rate Studies, Community Outreach and Proposition 218 Balloting Services to Hansford Economic Consulting (HEC) Truckee, California and Authorizing the City Manager to Execute the Agreement.

During the Rate Study Consultant selection process, one of the issues the Utility Rate Stakeholders Committee discussed was how to "translate" complex Regulatory and Engineering terminology, into terms the general population could relate to.

It’s one thing to “crunch the numbers” and come out with Rate Scenarios. It’s quite another to explain the “why” behind the numbers. It’s been my observation that even some the best and brightest in the "technical trades" have a really hard time dealing with the Language Barrier between themselves and those who do not speak the same "technical language" they do.

One option being considered by the Utility Rate Stakeholder’s Committee is to  hire a Public Relations Firm which has expertise in translating "Regulatory/Engineering geek speak" and jargon into Everyday Language .

But that would have it’s own share of objections to overcome.

Most people do not like to feel they are being "sold a bill of goods". And after having been told during the Run Up to the Recall, that the prior rate increases were "unwarranted and unnecessary", they may not be inclined to accept any Rate Increase they perceive as still "too high" and might resent what they would see as the "intrusion" of a Public Relations Firm trying to "fool them" into thinking otherwise.

If the use of a Public Relations Firm is really necessary this time around, I would hope it could do some of the initial "translation" and preparation of materials for the Public.

Then have the 2 Educators, 2 Business Persons, 1 Former Council person/Planning, Commissioner, and 1 Newcomer to Livingston actually participate in the Presentations to the Public.

After all, if they are competent enough to be on the Committee and recommend which Consultants to hire. They should be equally able to stand before the Public to help explain the results.

And now on to the


APRIL 17, 2012



Notice is hereby given that the City Council will hold a Regular Meeting on April 17, 2012, at the City Council Chambers, 1416 C Street, Livingston, California. Persons with disabilities who may need assistance should contact the Deputy City Clerk at least 24 hours prior to this meeting at (209) 394-8041, Ext. 121. Any writings or documents pertaining to an Open Session item provided to a majority of the members of the legislative body less than 72 hours prior to the meeting shall be made available for public inspection at Livingston City Hall, 1416 C Street. The Open Session will begin at 7:00 p.m.

The Closed Session will be held in accordance with state law prior to the Open Session beginning at 5:30 p.m. The Closed Session will be held in the City of Livingston City Hall Conference Room located at 1416 C Street. The agenda shall be as follows:

Closed Session

1. Call to Order.

2. Roll Call.


A "Closed" or "Executive" Session of the City Council or the Livingston Redevelopment Agency may be held in accordance with state law which may include, but is not limited to, the following types of items: personnel matters, labor negotiations, security matters, providing instructions to real property negotiators, conference with legal counsel regarding pending litigation. The Closed Session will be held in the City Hall Conference Room located at 1416 C Street, Livingston, California. Any public comment on Closed Session items will be taken before the Closed Session. Any required announcements or discussion of Closed Session items or actions.following the Closed Session will be made in the City Council Chambers, 1416 C Street, Livingston, California.

3. Public Employee Performance Evaluation

(Government Code Section 54957)

Title: City Attorney

4. Public Employee Performance Evaluation

(Government Code Section 54957

Title: City Manager

5. Conference with Legal Counsel-Potential Litigation

[(Government Code Section 54956.9(b)(1)]

Number of Cases: I

6. Conference with Labor Negotiator

(Government Code Section 54957.6)

Agency Negotiator: City Manager Jose Antonio Ramirez

Employee Organizations: All Represented City Employees

Regular Meeting

CALL TO ORDER Next Resolution Number: 2012-30

Next Ordinance Number: 600

Pledge of Allegiance.

Roll Call.

Closed Session Announcements.

Changes to the Agenda.


1. Presentation by Justin Surratt, Schneider Electric Company, "Energy Saving Partnership."

2. Presentation by Ritem Sandhu, Outreach Specialist, California Health Collaborative, Merced County Tobacco Control Program, "Tobacco Sales to Minors in Efforts for the City of Livingston to adopt a Tobacco Retail Licensing Policy."



Supervisor John Pedrozo Announcements and Reports. City Staff Announcements and Reports.

City Manager Announcements and Reports.

City Council Members’ Announcements and Reports.

Mayor’s Announcements and Reports.



This section of the agenda allows members of the public to address the City Council on any item NOT otherwise on the agenda. Members of the public, when recognized by the Mayor, should come forward to the lectern, and identify themselves. Comments are normally limited to three (3) minutes. In accordance with State Open Meeting Laws, no action will he taken by the City Council this evening. For items which are on the agenda this evening members of the public will be provided an opportunity to address the City Council as each item is brought up for discussion.


Items on the Consent Calendar are considered routine or non-controversial and will he enacted by one vote, unless separate action is requested by the City Manager or City Council Member. There will be no separate discussion of these items unless members of the City Council or City Manager request that specific items be removed.

3. Resolution Awarding a Professional Services Contract to Provide Water, Wastewater and Solid Waste Utility Rate Studies, Community Outreach and Proposition 218 Balloting Services to Hansford Economic Consulting (HEC) Truckee, California and Authorizing the City Manager to Execute the Agreement.

4. Resolution Ratifying Appointments by the Mayor to the Oversight Board for the Former Livingston Redevelopment Agency.

5. Resolution Approving the Designation of the Official Representative and Alternate Representative to the PACE JPA Board of Directors.

6. Resolution Supporting Camp Green Meadows Outdoor School’s Summer Camp.

7. Approval of Minutes of Meeting Held on March 6, 2012.

8. Approval of Warrant Register Dated April 12, 2012.


9. Continuation of Closed Session if Necessary.


Board and Planning Commission Hold Joint Meeting on County Growth Plans

This just came into my “in-box” today from Merced County.

“The Merced County Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission will be holding a joint meeting on Tuesday, January 12, 2010 to give staff direction on the revised growth alternatives for the County’s General Plan Update.  The meeting will be held in the Board Chambers at 2222 M Street in Merced and will begin at 1:30 in the afternoon.  Public comment on the revised alternatives will be taken at the meeting prior to the item’s consideration.  Members of the public can also submit their comments in advance of the meeting by email to bnicholson@co.merced.ca.us or can drop them off at the Planning Department’s front counter.  

The County General Plan sets the growth philosophy and course of action for development within the County, including where and how growth should occur in order to protect valuable farmland and natural resources, while meeting the needs of the County’s growing population. The Revised Alternatives Report can be downloaded from the General Plan Update website at www.co.merced.ca.us/gpu, along with a December 14th 2009 memorandum from Jim Harnish,[1] the County’s General Plan Update consultant, which offers additional detail and analysis of the revised General Plan Alternatives D & E.     

The County has already held numerous community workshop meetings on the General Plan to invite public comment and input.   

The General Plan Update will be a 20-year Plan that will set County policy in the subjects of agricultural preservation, land use and development, circulation and transit systems, environmental resources protection, economic development, housing, public infrastructure, public safety and noise.”



[1] Given the Controversy over the City of Livingston 2025 General Plan Update, “TABLE A Alternatives Population and Employment Projections” in this Memorandum would be worth looking at (Might want to look at the other tables while you’re there).

[2] The Population Projections contained in the City of Livingston 2025 General Plan Update were the focus of some pretty harsh criticism. Therefore, it might be beneficial for all interested parties to take a look “TABLE A Alternatives Population and Employment Projections” in the memorandum from Jim Harnish,[2] the County’s General Plan Update consultant

Rabbit Holes, Rants, Lawsuits and Delays

Remember that scene from “The Matrix” where Morpheus tells Neo something like “I bet you’re beginning to feel a little like Alice–falling down the rabbit hole”?

I’m starting to have that sensation of wondering, if in my waking moments, I am really just in the middle of a very bad dream and if I could only wake up-things would be normal and “real”.

Events seem to be increasingly spinning out of control towards a major “crash and burn” for the City I care so much about.

Lawsuits are flying while a couple of council persons have flung Logic, Reason and Stewardship to the four winds.

Frankly-I’m worried.

I am worried that the verbal venom and spite hurled from the Council Dais is so thick I can feel it.

I am worried that the financial, mistakes, missteps and political pandering of administrations past have finally caught up to us and we have persons on the current council who refuse to believe it, much less willing to deal with it.

And I am worried about the mistakes, missteps and political pandering I see in the present administration.

I’m worried that we have people on the council who, on the one hand decry the amount paid to City attorneys then speak from the Dais in such a manner as to actually encourage more lawsuits against the City.

Which it would have to defend-therefore spending more taxpayer money on attorney’s fees.

          Which would be said to be “too much”

                   Which would be voted against

                        And said to be to much

                             And voted against

                                         And said to be too much 

                                      And voted against

                                                   And said to be to much 

                                                 And voted against

                                                                          And said to be too much

Until any decent attorney with his/her head screwed on straight would never want to work for Livingston….

Leaving us to “be served” by the kind of attorney who (I’ll let you fill in this blank)

We even have two council persons who voted to hire back an attorney they previously voted to not pay.

What the heck is that about?

Which leads me “down the rabbit hole” to an observation on the most recent lawsuit about the Water Rates

Weren’t all the Rates Based

On a Study done by Consultants

Who were chosen by the Attorney

That 2 Council persons want re-hired

But they voted not to pay?

(Voted not to pay the attorney-that is…)

That “creeps me out”. 

The same thing is happening to other professionals who provide services for the City: votes against accepting the Independent Auditors report. Votes against paying the Executive Search Firm handling the search for the new Police Chief.

(Who’s gonna want to do work for the City under these circumstances?)

The same thing is happening with agreements with other agencies. A Memorandum of Understanding with the Livingston High School District; an agreement that took months-years of public input at High School District Board Meetings and City Council Meetings to reach a final “meeting of the minds” was put off until the January Council meeting so there could be more “public comment”

Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems to me that this is one of those times for “little less talk and a lot more action”.

After all, if the Council does decide to change even one little thing, that means the Memorandum of Understanding gets “batted back” to the High School District Board for approval.

And the “scope of work” needed for the Environmental Document gets delayed,

          Which means the CEQA process gets delayed

                   Which means the date for “ground breaking” gets delayed

                             Which means lining up all the contractors and sub-contractors gets delayed

         Which means the High School Expansion that folks are looking forward to gets delayed.

                                                                          And folks will be complaining about the delays

(And who’s gonna want to “work with” the City under these circumstances?)

I keep hoping that I will wake up some day and it will all have been just a bad dream. But I fear I will just wake up to find the whole of Livingston being the butt of many jokes and the laughingstock of the State.

Which is really so very sad…we have so many good people here: quietly going about their business, donating to worthy causes and volunteering their time and effort: doing so much good for the good of others.

You don’t see a whole lot about them in “the papers” now, do you?

We’re now in the Season That’s Supposed to be Jolly, but “Peace on Earth and Goodwill” is getting harder and harder to find in the Council Chamber. 

Isn’t it sad………

Writs, Rants, Reports, and Lawsuits

There is so much happening in Lil ole Livingston at the moment-I hardly know where to begin. But-since I have a little “time on my hands” at the moment-I’m going to thrown my “two cents” in on a couple of current “hot topics”  

First…..let me see if I got this right..so we have 2 council persons who voted to transfer the lawsuit with Foster Farm (who is suing over the increase in the rate they would have to pay for the water they use) to Best, Best and Kreiger: the same firm they voted against paying earlier this year. (about the time of the Grand Jury Postscript to the 2007-2008 Grand Jury Report)  

Now…if “the attorney they already voted against paying but want back anyway” DOES decide to accept the case anyway….doesn’t that meant that she will have to “defend her client (The City) to the best of her ability”?  

In other words…try to win?  

But…since Foster Farms is alleging that one of the grounds for their lawsuit is the City went against the advice of the attorney when it raised the water rates (Which attorney? Guess who? Yep! Same one)  

Therefore, in order to fully comply with her “fiduciary responsibility” to the City and vigorously defend the City against Foster Farms……..  

Wouldn’t she have to argue against her own previous opinion?  

Am I reading this right? Or am I missing something? Either way-it sounds like an episode straight out of “The Twilight Zone” (cue music!)  

Next.. I have a few comments about the Court Ruling (on the General Plan Update) and recently released Order Granting Petition for Writ of Mandate.


First… “I told you so”


Next…from the October 21, 2008 Draft Minutes




“Mayor Samra said he received comments from the community at meetings as well as in the community.  The comments ranged from too ambitious to not ambitious enough.  He said it is difficult to get 100% agreement from the community.  Mayor Samra clarified that the County has been invited to be involved and that public notices were sent out in multiple languages.  He added that it is impossible to publish entire documents in multiple languages.  The Mayor and Council can translate at meetings.  Mayor Samra reported the City is not going to take land from farmers who are not willing to sell.  We appreciate the County and their participation in the process.  Our services are far superior to the County’s services for 16,000 houses.  We must speak to the future.  


Motion:  M/S Ingram/Espinoza to adopt Resolution No. 2008-55 approving the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the 2005 General Plan Update Project, and the 2005 General Plan Update.  The motion carried 5-0 by the following vote:

AYES:                  Council Members:          Espinoza, Ingram, Samra, Soria, Vierra

NOES:                  Council Members:          None

ABSENT:   Council Members:          None”

End Quote


Next Quote: Same Meeting

The Council went into Closed Session at 6:35 p.m. for the following matters:

1.     Conference with Legal Counsel—Anticipated Litigation. Significant exposure to litigation pursuant to subdivision (b) (1) of Government Code Section 54956.9: (one case involving the 2025 General Plan Update EIR).

End Quote


Seems to me that the night they voted to adopt The Plan, they knew a lawsuit was inevitable.


For all the folks who are screaming now about the amount of money spent on lawsuits (and believe me, I aint too crazy about it either) make sure you take a real good look at the names of just who it was who voted 5/0 to adopt that General Plan in the First Place!!!

If you really want an answer as too why the City adopted a General Plan it got sued over, you really need to ask that of ALL 5 who were on the Council at the time the Plan was adopted.

 And you might want to ask a few questions of the “council before that”: when the General Plan Update Process was begun.

Whose Blueprint is it?…….

There were two important public workshops held this week in Hilmar and in Delhi.


The Topic? The Merced County General Plan Update.


Merced County is in the middle of updating its General Plan. Workshops are being held at various sites across Merced County to let the public have a look at the various growth plans being considered.


The idea is to have a “public discussion” of growth alternatives for Merced County. These workshops have been set up to collect “feedback” from “the public”


After the “public feedback” period has ended, the Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission will select a preferred course of action and create a Draft General Plan.


Sadly…from what I’ve heard and seen, there isn’t much “public participation” at these “public workshops”.


The turnout at the Hilmar was a grand total of 4 members of “the public” (and one of them was a person representing builders from Modesto). A few more turned out for the workshop in Delhi, (but it still wasn’t “standing room only”).


There needs to be more public participation in these workshops. These are the workshops the board of supervisors will fall back on to say they have heard from “the people” even if only a handful of “the people” have attended. The “consensus” reached at these workshops will set in motion a chain of events that will affect future land use decisions and be felt for decades.


If you really care about what Merced County will look like in the future, you’ll want to attend one of these workshops.


For a complete list of Workshop Dates and Locations click on the following link:

Community Workshops 


For general information on the Merced County General Plan Update, click on:

General Plan Update Homepage